Dan Ross

After failing to requalify for the tour at the close of the '08 season, Dan Ross had seemingly thrown in the towel. He picked up a gig coaching Red Bull's women's surf team, while still entering the odd WQS event here and there. But by year's end Ross was sitting in first on the 'QS rankings, and was forced to make a decision: continue coaching or go back on tour. Without a main sponsor to influence his decision, Ross put down the whistle and clip board and started making plans for another tour campaign in '10. "It was a crazy year," he admitted on the North Shore this winter. And while Ross may not have the same flair or the explosiveness as some of the younger guys who made the cut this year, the man's a damn fine strategist. (Joli)